Colombia turns into newest Latin American nation to partially decriminalize abortion | CNN


Bogota, Colombia

Colombia turned the most recent nation in Latin America to partially decriminalize abortion on Monday, marking a significant victory for the nation’s feminist actions and reflecting a wider shift in views towards the process across the region.

The nation’s Constitutional Courtroom dominated in favor of legalizing abortion up till 24 weeks of a being pregnant, the supreme tribunal introduced in an announcement.

Abortion rights advocates reacted on Monday with marches in Bogota, the capital, and different main cities, having campaigned for 20 years to take away abortion from the nation’s prison code.

“We knew this was not a straightforward battle, however sooner or later it needed to occur,” mentioned Mariana Ardila, a ladies’s rights activist and lawyer who signed the petition to decriminalize abortion. “In fact, whereas we had been hoping for full decriminalization, and we’ll preserve preventing for it, this is a vital step ahead for us,” Ardila informed CNN, surrounded by ladies’s rights activists outdoors the courtroom on Monday night.

Abortion rights activists celebrate the court's decision in Bogota on Monday.

The Colombian Supreme Courtroom’s ruling follows current choices by Mexico’s Supreme Court and Argentina’s Senate to decriminalize abortion.

Abortion in Colombia has solely been authorized below three circumstances: when the life or well being of the girl is in danger, if the fetus has malformations that make it nonviable or when the being pregnant is the results of rape or incest.

Now, ladies looking for an abortion as much as the twenty fourth week of their being pregnant is not going to face prosecution, the courtroom dominated. Abortion after 24 weeks stays unlawful, besides if a kind of three circumstances is current.

Since 2006, ladies looking for to finish a being pregnant outdoors of these circumstances may resist 54 months in jail below the Colombian penal code. Whereas jail sentences have been uncommon, abortion rights advocates say criminalization of the apply creates a local weather of concern and suspicion between sufferers and the medical class, who usually really feel pressured to report abortions to the authorities for concern of taking part in a criminal offense.

Tons of of ladies in Colombia are investigated for receiving unlawful abortions each year. Others resort to clandestine abortions, a pervasive and sometimes unsafe apply throughout the remainder of the area.

Even ladies who’re medically entitled to an abortion have confronted boundaries to entry remedy in Colombia. Alejandra Gutierrez, a 23-year-old most cancers affected person from Bogota, informed CNN that her case needed to undergo a panel dialogue between a gynecologist, a hematologist, and a psychiatrist earlier than her request was authorised.

All through the method, she says she acquired little clear details about the dangers of terminating the being pregnant or carrying the child to time period amid chemotherapy remedy.

Solely after three weeks and quite a few interviews was she allowed to finish the being pregnant. “I felt so susceptible, so small, and I nonetheless really feel I by no means actually received to the underside of it. My concern was that it began to develop, inside my stomach, after which it was too late, I used to be scared to loss of life.” she informed CNN in November.

Past the regulation, pregnant ladies in Colombia have confronted bureaucratic delays, damaging attitudes and medical workers who refuse to hold out the process below a “conscientious objection” clause.

In Latin America, the place the Catholic church stays a significant affect, society has lengthy been hostile to women seeking abortion. Nonetheless, two landmark rulings in Argentina and Mexico sign a rising shift in enthusiastic about the process.

In September, Mexico’s Supreme Courtroom unanimously dominated that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional, a choice anticipated to set precedent for the authorized standing of abortion nationwide. And in December 2020, Argentina’s Senate voted to legalize abortion as much as 14 weeks right into a being pregnant, making the nation the biggest nation in Latin America on the time to legalize the apply.

Nations the place the process is authorized usually develop into important locations for girls looking for care that they can’t obtain of their house international locations. Cuba, Uruguay, French Guiana and Guyana, additionally permit elective abortions, in response to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Brazil, the biggest nation in Latin America, only allows abortion if the particular person’s life is in danger or when the being pregnant is the results of rape. El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Suriname ban abortions in almost all circumstances. In Costa Rica and Guatemala, abortions are solely permitted if it’s to protect the particular person’s well being or assist save their life. In Panama, the process is just allowed to protect the mom’s well being or life within the case of rape, or fetal malformation. Simply final week, Ecuador’s Congress authorised a invoice permitting entry abortions – if the being pregnant is the results of rape – as much as 12 weeks of being pregnant for girls in city areas and as much as 16 weeks for minors and adults in rural areas. Nonetheless, the invoice nonetheless must be signed into regulation by Ecuador’s president, who has threatened to veto it.

In Colombia, one girl informed CNN she was pressured to go away the nation in 2017 to hunt an abortion after turning into pregnant on the age of 15. She requested that her title be withheld because of the sensitivity and stigma of the difficulty there.

“I used to be actually scared, you enter in a state of complete panic when it occurs, how are you going to suppose with readability about something in that state?” she mentioned. She was nonetheless in highschool on the time.

Nonetheless, her mom agreed to assist her journey to Mexico Metropolis, the place the apply was authorized lengthy earlier than it develop into nationwide regulation. “I used to be fortunate: my mom doesn’t help abortion and was very let down, however she nonetheless had my again. She had an excellent job on the time, so we may afford flying to Mexico and staying there for every week to do it. However many others can’t try this,” she informed CNN.

“Everyone knows a girl who received an abortion, it’s simply that no person is aware of who she is. We don’t speak about it as a result of it’s nonetheless a taboo, below wraps, however all people is aware of it,” she mentioned.

Social taboos and public shaming across the challenge stay ongoing boundaries to abortion training and entry, in response to abortion rights activists.

“That is additionally about altering mentality,” mentioned Dr. Laura Gil, a gynecologist in Bogota who signed one of many petitions to Colombia’s Constitutional Courtroom to alter the regulation. “We aren’t attempting to make individuals change their opinion about abortion – that may be a query that’s vital just for ladies who’re going through an undesirable being pregnant.

“That is about individuals understanding that no matter their opinion, abortion is a proper,” she mentioned.

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